Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Night Videos

Silence is Golden from chris shepherd on Vimeo.

I Am Tom Moody from ainslie henderson on Vimeo.
A surreal trip through the subconscious of a stifled musician as he struggles to sing.

Spherical Harmonics from Alan Warburton on Vimeo.

Little Monkey from Dalkhafine on Vimeo.

A young monkey, initiated by his master, will pass his transition to adulthood. He will have to fight fire, metaphor for his fear of growing up, by taming the sound of the sacred djembe, symbol of independence.

TUSSILAGO - short film from jonas odell on Vimeo.

The Poodle Trainer from Vance Malone on Vimeo.
Un Sacré Mariage! from Gregory Verreault on Vimeo.

Westchester's Racist Zipcodes (Marin is the next county to be targeted by HUD)

7 Westchester communities have 'exclusionary' zoning, housing monitor says

Seven towns and villages in Westchester County have zoning that keeps out low-income families, making it exclusionary under state and federal law, and that may perpetuate segregation, the monitor in the county’s fair housing case said in a report released Wednesday.

Croton-on-Hudson, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mamaroneck town, Ossining town, Pelham Manor and Pound Ridge share problems with their zoning, including little or no land designated for multifamily housing, no incentives or mandates for affordable housing and slow progress in adopting a model fair housing ordinance, said the report by James Johnson.

The other 24 communities with low minority populations that are targeted by the settlement do not have exclusionary zoning and four — Hastings-on-Hudson, North Salem, Tarrytown and Yorktown — should be examples to the other communities of how to create housing opportunities, he said.
Johnson’s report contradicts the county’s conclusion in several analyses submitted as required by the settlement that there is no exclusionary zoning in the 31 communities covered by the agreement.
“The report reflects months of work to determine whether the zoning in municipalities is compliant with two separate but related standards: broadly speaking, the duty to provide for the affordable housing needs of the municipality and the region, on the one hand, and the obligation not to establish zoning regulations that have segregative impact on the other,” Johnson said.

“Our work made clear (that) seven municipalities did not meet the first standard. I believe more data is required before one can conclude on the second,” he said.

Johnson’s report is an effort to break an impasse that has stalled the implementation of the housing settlement and put more than $20 million in federal funding to the county at risk.
He asked the county to report back to him in a month on how it will work with the municipalities to change the problematic zoning. If the county objects, it will have to take its reasons to a U.S. magistrate judge.

Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino, said Westchester is pleased the monitor found 24 communities to have no exclusionary zoning but disputed the other findings.
“The county rejects the monitor’s finding that seven communities have exclusionary zoning ‘on the basis of socioeconomic status,’ ” he said.

“The county’s comprehensive (analyses) in eight submissions to HUD — running to thousands of pages of documentation — found no evidence of any exclusionary zoning,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has the final say on the analysis, rejected all of the county’s submissions as inadequate. As a result, HUD is holding up more than $17 million in community development grants that help nonprofits and municipalities serve the poor and $3 million in lead-paint abatement grants.

To try to bring HUD and the county together, Johnson last year embarked on his own analysis with the help of consultants from the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.
HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones said his agency looks forward to reviewing the report.
While Johnson said 20 communities with non-exclusionary zoning have room for improvement, Craig Gurian, who brought the case against the county in 2006 that led to the settlement with the government, said based on the data in the report, those communities should also fall into the exclusionary category.

“The monitor’s analysis stunningly understates the extent of exclusionary zoning,” Gurian said.
Astorino has accused the government of wanting to dismantle local zoning.

Marvellous Compost Bin

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Government, Stay in Your Lane- A warning about Plan Bay Area from Minnesota

Minnesotan's enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors, yet planners want shuffle them into high density housing in cities.

 Government, Stay in Your Lane

Back in 1967, the Metropolitan Council was created to solve a problem: The growing population of the Twin Cities region had a sewage problem spawned by a patchwork of sewer and septic systems, and letting the problem fester would be a significant problem for public health.

The Metropolitan Council wasn’t supposed to replace local governments, but coordinate their efforts to increase health, safety and efficiency.

Coordinated planning of water and sewer systems made sense. And it worked pretty well, as such things go. Some things do work better at scale.

Legislators liked what they saw, so they added new functions to the Met Council over time. The most obvious and most frequently contentious is public transit, but other duties were added over time: regional planning, urban planning for municipalities, forecasting population growth, ensuring adequate affordable housing, and maintaining a regional park and trails system. It even has authority over aviation matters.

Aficionados of making government “efficient” and empowering “experts” see this increase in the Metropolitan Council as a great thing. It turns the Twin Cities metropolitan region — which is a sprawling mish-mash of overlapping governments, populations, taxing districts, and authorities — into one thing to be managed. And managed by a council that is entirely unelected and mostly unaccountable.

Needless to say, I am not one of those aficionados. In fact, I tend to think that more than a little diversity and chaos, as well as some healthy rivalry, is a good thing in governing people. Centralization is the enemy.

The current priorities of the Metropolitan Council demonstrate my point perfectly. Susan Haigh, as nice a person as one could meet, has set out her priorities for the Council to tackle in coming years.

The target of her concern? She has challenged the Council and its “partners” (government should not have partners, but constituents) to “address the significant disparities in school achievement, employment and poverty between the region’s people of color and its white population.”
No kidding. The agency founded to ensure that septic tanks didn’t poison our water is now at the forefront of the fight for racial equality.

I am all for fighting racial inequality. I live in a majority-minority area and tend to think that the elitists in Minneapolis City Hall care more for the quality of life of the wealthy in the liberal lakes area than the working-class milieu in the near north, but I want my water, sewer, and transit bureaucracy to focus on providing water, sewer and safe, effective and affordable transit.

Instead, they are focusing on racial inequality. Ensuring quality education. Empowering the powerless. Things that we already pay the Human Rights Commissioner and the Education Commissioner to do for the state’s seven most populous counties as well as the other 80.

The Metropolitan Council’s governing structure exists as it does because it was supposed to focus on managing the interaction of bureaucracies providing basic functions of government, as efficiently as possible. But the mission creep we have witnessed over the past 40 or so years has made it the playground of unaccountable social engineers who are playing SimCity with our lives, our homes and our region.

Such mission creep is hardly unique to the Metropolitan Council. A quick perusal of the new plans from the Department of Transportation show the same sort of overweening social engineering impulses.

Naïvely perhaps, Minnesotans believe that MnDOT exists to ensure that we can move people, goods, and services — provide mobility, in other words — as efficiently as possible using as few resources as necessary.

MnDOT, rather, lists ensuring the “health” of Minnesotans as one of its key goals in its new plans, so they include massive sums of money in their plans for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Bikes and walking are great, but they won’t get the food to market or the manufactured goods to the airport, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t think MnDOT should be worried about my BMI. And the Commissioner of Human Rights finds so little to do, apparently, that he’s decided to take on DEED’s job in fighting unemployment. The Commissioner of Education has moved on from K-12 and Early Education and has expanded her mandate to include the “cradle.”

We depend upon government doing its job well. Government officials, on the other hand, revel in the opportunity to tell us how to live well.

It’s a terrible combination, and it makes it hard to hold an institution or agency accountable when they can simply change their job description to whatever it is that they want to do, not what they are mandated to do and not what our tax money has been appropriated for them to do.

David Strom is Principal of Think Write Do, a public affairs consulting firm. He is also a Senior Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. This article originally appeared in Politics in Minnesota

Is San Clemente Place REALLY a good model for the Marinwood Village project?

San Clemente Place is 79 unit project in Corte Madera said to be a model for a successful example of affordable housing for Marinwood Village.

Editor's Note:  We provide this story as a counterpoint to the happy talk that affordable housing advocates want us to believe about Marinwood Village and low income housing in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.  The reality is that high density housing concentrates urban problems.  Even at low per capita rates of crime, more people means more overall crime. Concentrating 70% of all low income housing for unincorporated Marin in our 5.78 square miles will transform our community forever.  We are not suggesting all residents in affordable housing will have the same experiences as Ms. Fourshey. 

Here is how describes San Clemente Place:

San Clemente Place is a 79-unit affordable housing community in Corte Madera that provides housing for low-income individuals and families near jobs, shopping, parks, schools and transportation. Built on a 2.74 acre infill site in 2007 by EAH Housing, San Clemente is a shining example of an elegant and successful affordable housing complex.The buildings were engineered to conserve energy, and the eye-catching architecture consists of two- and three-story buildings surrounding an open courtyard, garden, and play area. The property boasts landscaped entryways and private balconies with bay, mountain or garden views, bringing a sense of openness and natural beauty to the surroundings. San Clemente provides a range of apartment choices for single-person households and families, and reserves some units for individuals with developmental disabilities or who were formerly homeless. Residents who qualify for San Clemente’s apartments earn between $23,000-$68,000 annually.Residents have access to a large community room with a kitchen, computer lab and patio. Children enjoy the courtyard, play structure and basketball court.  A full-time on-site manager and part-time resource coordinator plan resident activities such as a homework club, summer youth program, and classes on gardening, computers and financial planning.

In the real world, there are problems. San Clemente Place is being rebuilt already due to alleged shoddy construction and bad waterproofing.  Residents complain of poor management.

When San Clemente Place opened in 2008 the Marin IJ ran this story

Corte Madera residents of affordable housing complex thrilled with new homes


Jackie Fourshey still can't believe her good fortune.

"I've got a view of the Richmond Bridge," said Fourshey, 41, who recently moved with her 19-year-old daughter, Ashley, to San Clemente Place, Corte Madera's new affordable housing complex. "I know we're blessed to be here."

Fourshey and her daughter occupy one of the 79 units at San Clemente Place. The complex rents to households that earn between $12,000 and $73,000 a year, with rental prices that range from 25 to 60 percent of the area median income.

EAH Housing, the San Rafael nonprofit developer that built San Clemente Place, hosted a "grand opening" of the complex Tuesday, and Fourshey and other residents gushed about their new homes. Residents began moving into the $32 million complex in January, but EAH just recently finished all the "last-minute touches," as project manager Andy Blauvelt put it.

"This has been a long time coming," Corte Madera Councilwoman Carla Condon said. "We feel this is really an asset to our community. They really did a beautiful job."

Two years later,  the Marin IJ ran this story 

Three suspects were arrested after a methamphetamine bust at a Corte Madera shopping center, the sheriff's department said Wednesday.

Jacqueline Latrice Fourshey, 42, and Baltazar Ruiz-Huitzil, 27, both of Corte Madera, were arrested on drug sales allegations, while Gabriel Ruiz-Huitzil, 25, of San Rafael was booked on suspicion of concealing or destroying evidence.

The arrests occurred Tuesday night after an investigation by the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force, the county drug squad. Drug investigators, receiving information that Fourshey was selling methamphetamine throughout Marin, bought meth from the suspects on several occasions before setting up a bust Tuesday, said task force Sgt. Fred Marziano.

Fourshey was arrested after arriving as planned in the parking lot of Corte Madera Town Center, Marziano said. Investigators then executed a search warrant at her residence on San Clemente Drive, where they found the other two suspects.

Fourshey was released after posting bail. The two men remained in custody at the county jail Wednesday night in the task force case

The local citizens following the story commented HERE.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What is going on in Venezula?

Socialism is not working out in Venezula

Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left

Kimberly Celifarco with one of her kindergarten students, Gerson Perez, 5, at Public School 253 in Brooklyn. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. Though 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to them since 2010, resistance came quickly, mostly from right-leaning states, where some leaders and political action groups have protested what they see as a federal takeover of local classrooms.

But the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder.

Carol Burris, an acclaimed high school principal on Long Island, calls the Common Core a “disaster.”

“We see kids,” she said, “they don’t want to go to school anymore.”

Leaders of both parties in the New York Legislature want to rethink how the state uses the Common Core.

The statewide teachers’ union withdrew its support for the standards last month until “major course corrections” took place.

From left, Carmen Mattimore, Kathleen Rusiecki, Evelyn Edwards and Nicole Senk attended a teacher training session last month on the Common Core at Public School 36 in the Bronx. Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
“There are days I think, ‘Oh my God, we have to slow this thing down, there are so many problems,’   ” said Catherine T. Nolan, a Queens Democrat who is chairwoman of the State Assembly Education Committee.

The objections in New York have become so loud, and have come from such a wide political spectrum, that even the governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has become a critic. Governor Cuomo has called the state’s execution of the standards “flawed” and appointed a panel to recommend changes.

Republicans are seeking to turn the broad discontent into a liability for him; Rob Astorino, the executive of Westchester County who is considering a run for governor, said of Mr. Cuomo, “He has pushed it from the beginning, and now he is trying to push it off on someone else.”

Common Core advocates like Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group, have been taken aback. “It’s bizarre,” he said. “New York is in some interesting company, right up with the reddest of the red states. And you worry that there will be bleed-over from New York to other states.”
Few in New York are calling for abandoning the standards. And state officials have not